Thursday, 22 January 2015

A DYSLEXIC MAN WALKS INTO A BRA.....

Was the "joke" told to me before my physio yanked my arm and a loud click from my elbow. The physio is really taking it's toll, it truly isn't a case of being fondled but more a case of being beaten up by a woman.
Again birding has been mostly sorting garden out with more "decorative" perches and general tidy up ready for the RSPB GARDENWATCH. I even polished up the lenses and backed up 400 odd images, oh what joy!
A close up of a Greenfinch
My local park (EASTFIELD PARK) is going to be "run" by a local church group, which could be bad but I'm popping along to a meeting with some other Park users to see "what's what" they've in the past built an old people's home and flats. To be fair the flats were on the site of a defunct school, the old people's home wasn't and we lost a sizeable chunk of wooded area.
Over the park a lone female Goosander has vanished, probably not enough fish in the lake these days. There's a Teal and plenty of Shovellers which brings a smile to my face you really can't get more "urban" then my estate.
A Shoveller taking off....
I'm not allowed to use my sling anymore and have been told to exercise my arm in moderation, "moderation" trying to catch a sharp flight shot of bird with 1/250th second shutter speed.....maybe my definition of moderation is different to that of my physio?
But the Buzzard on the park is really testing my arm.
A urban Buzzard how cool is that?
I flushed it the other day as I walked through the wooded section with the greyhounds, shocked me and the hounds. It gets mobbed by everything, the gulls go mob handed, the crows just dive bomb it individually but the best are the Jays and Magpies they pair up and attack it, never seen Magpies and Jays work together. I've seen the bird three consecutive days now and flies off towards Lings Wood which is where our local wildlife trust is based.
The other bird of note has been a male Tawny calling regularly now and I even managed a walk around with six like minded people and got great views of it perched on a satellite dish, can't find it in the woods during the day though....I like urban birding.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

ANOTHER STARLING MURMARATION

Many of blog readers will know of my fondness for what I've nicknamed "THE REED BED". It has a official name called "Quarry Walk", something about quarries and me! Situated between the working quarry at Earls Barton and Pastures Farm the land was transformed under the maligned Natural England system, but when done properly it's hard to see why Natural England comes under attack by many conservationist.
After all how many sites during the spring/Summer can boast Cettis Warbler, Water Rail, Otter, Cuckoo, Hobbies, Reed Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroat and this summer being an exception the Sedge Warbler, numbers were drastically down with just the one male bird!! Which sadly tallies with the BTO figures for the species this year ie very bad. As for winter birds there is a star species that's so far gone unreported and as it doesn't show brilliantly I'll say nothing for now.
Now as John Finalyson was blogging about the starling murmaration at Titchmarsh and how it appeared numbers were dropping I started to get phone calls from a couple of dog walkers and one quarry worker about the Starlings inincreasing in numbers. So went to investigate (pre-accident). The first visit I stood on the boardwalk (pictured above) and could hear them chattering some distance into the reed bed then silence as they all took off and dispersed onto the surrounding farm land. In the evening they threw a curve ball and settled in the reed bed on Grendon Lakes, more to follow on this site. But definitely good numbers. On my second visit they settled on the lake known as Mill Lake. This site can accessed from the carpark next to quarry and following the path alongside the River Nene and over the stile. The third visit without my camera due to my accident was better and thanks to my chauffeur (girlfriend) produced the best displays they settled in the reed bed on the Quarry Walk part of the site.
Numbers were quite impressive and had me wishing for my camera.
If you plan a visit,  park in the carpark nearest to the quarry, definately don't park at the quarry entrance, security need access even at weekends, in no uncertain terms you will return to your car with flat tyres, you've been warned! Don't take a short cut across the quarry if security is present be prepared to be chased by a large dog they've had too many issues from diesel theft, plant machinery damaged/stolen. Walk past Dunkelys restaurant (old train carriages) opposite the only other property is a public footpath that takes you alongside the very muddy farmers field until you get to the boardwalk you can't miss it.  There's a circular footpath that takes in a variety of habitat you might even spot an unreported bird too.
But what ever you do, don't stray off the footpaths onto Grendon Lakes, birders with the exception of one or two individuals are not welcomed and well let's say it will not end in a happy outcome. There is footpaths around the site but you won't see the starlings so it's not really worth it.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

ONE ARM, ONE SHED AND ONE Camera....

...... and a pain the arse would best describe my week since being savaged by a Jaguar.
Firstly the driver, he's being charged with driving without due care and attention but according to "victim support" who I really didn't think I needed a visit from the police are putting a suspension of sorts on the drivers license until he gets his eyes tested and suitable note from his doctor to say he's fit to drive.
His insurance company has been predictably stubborn, ignorant twats. First they told me, with a broken arm I'd have to take my bike to a cycle repair shop to get costed for repairs after a flurry of four letter words I composed myself and said no. I told the twerp in a polite manner his company are lucky I'm not putting in for a personal injury claim, can't do loss of earnings my firm is good and I'm on full in pay.
I also asked how I'd get a bike with bent forks, buckled wheel, cracked A-frame, damaged crank with a broken arm to a bike shop, after 5 minutes of being on hold the idiot told me to send in a receipt of original purchase and I'll get a full refund it was agreed new helmet and lights too...what a hassle for a small amount.
Some suggested (including victim support) I should sue. Nope, I've done it before when I was hit head on by some idiot whilst I was driving a van, I got a huge six figure (sadly hundreds of thousands not millions) payout and placed on a database of personal injury claimants, bet you didn't know insurance companies did that, this in turn made it/makes it hard to get cheap insurance. It actually as a driver made it hard for me to find employment after I got better as it was flagged up by the insurance company of potential employees and in turn increased their insurance bill.



My boss came round with my personal bits n bobs from the cab of my lorry, no it wasn't to check up on me, he's a good boss and had arranged through our companies health care programme some private physio, the first appointment at our local hospital went OK with a nice looking Portuguese woman. I have one today but seeing as a lady is being currently tested for Ebola at our hospital  it should be interesting....look out for a moon walking Douglas if there's a lot of media hanging around:-)
To be honest I'm going stir crazy, I prematurely blitzed my record collection in the first few days.  The TV is driving me bonkers to the point during the days I'm spending time either walking my greyhounds one at a time over the local park, watching a solitary female Goosander. Or sat in the shed.

Took an extended walk around Bradlaugh fields which was good for common birds but nothing of note. I thought given the habitat of part of the area and the number of Stonechats in the county I might chance upon an urban 'chat. Sadly not.  Found an urban' ish Little Owl on Moulton Park industrial estate. It was quite an unusual place to find one, it was in some trees next to a leisure centre, college campus and right behind a big warehouse not too far from the science park in some pine/spruce it was being mobbed by a Jay.
Obviously the rest of my time I spent in the shed watching the birds at first but couldn't resist trying for some images. I have very little movement in my arm and trying to lift even the light 300mm,f2.8 is impossible without agony.
 I've opted to place the camera on a bean bag resting on a window sill, obviously not being able to lift the camera I have to point the camera in one spot and hope a bird comes along, then re-postion it at another spot and wait again. All images are then taken one handed. GRIM!!!
My next post will be about interesting things to do whilst suffering from Cabin fever, apart from Moon walking.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

FUCKING CUNT...

I would normally at this point say sorry for the blog title but seeing as these could have been my last words I shall not apologise, let me explain.
I had finished work and was cycling home, still in work clothes which for the record is a green fleece with reflective collar and cuffs and a hi-vis vest. Also for the record I had three Xenon lights attached to the front of my bike and three reds on the back of the bike. A small one the size of a fifty pence piece on the bike helmet, one attached to my (dark) work bag and one attached below my saddle. Furthermore I also have two flashing yellow lights attached to my right and left arm for indicating purposes, so basically I was lit up like a FUCKING Christmas tree.
So why is it that some old git driving an S type Jag saw it fit to pull out on me at the last moment sending me sprawling over his bonnet and onto the road? The git was even looking at me, as I realised what was going to happen I've slammed on my brakes, even for what it was worth rang my bell (as if it's going to be heard) and said "you FUCKING CUNT" How apt for me,  these could be my last words. As we sat and waited for the ambulance to turn up unknown to me three cars back was a police car which was lucky as this old git was trying to blame me, "he's got no lights". "you just smashed them you twat", "you were riding to fast"..injuries or not I got up and was going for the wanker at which point the police officer reminded the driver he was under caution and he had seen me cycle past him at the previous junction, the old man went silent. I was in agony but for our beloved politicians who seem hell bent on verbally destroying our NHS, the ambulance was prompt, the nurses were brilliant and caring despite their heavy workload my only criticism would be the Xray department who despite a camera that could be positioned in hundreds of different ways insisted on man handling me to get to optimal position, boy did yell in agony.
My injuries a broken Radial bone and two fractures on the forearm, luckily no head injuries. I had been brought a helmet by my girlfriend at Xmas who in turn and had put her foot down and insisted I wear one, glad she insisted as material damage wise, bike: front forks bent, handle bar stem cracked, front wheel buckled, pedal crank and front gear derailleur twisted and broke. Bike helmet cracked and me concussion too. Funny because in my blog post where I muse about the good, bad and ugly of riding, old people in my opinion were the worst and not your oversized exhaust boy racers, how right was I. The driver has been charged with driving without due care and attention it got me really angry how he instantly tried to blame me, so I shall be claiming for a new bike on his insurance. I'm out of action for 4 to 6 weeks so blog posts will be thin on the ground.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY ARSE! Given injuries I was surprised I was put of Northampton General in just under two hours, good old nurses.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

STONECHATS

What a swing in temperatures, the last few days have been in the minus numbers and my riding has been hazardous. My road sits in shade until about 2:30'ish in the afternoon so had about three days worth of build up of frost and my route to the quarry wasn't much better especially the cycle paths. One lane I always head down is called Spectacle Lane, one half is tarmac and the second half is mud with a ford halfway down it.  I found a Woodcock here the other day on the way up to the quarry. The quarry itself has been a bit quiet. The Kestrel is still there. 
 The odd Snipe are still about too, this is about as good as I've got of the Snipe here so far, this one flying in from roughly the direction of Pitsford reservoir.
 Quite a few Wagtails keep dropping into the quarry floor, using the puddles that weren't frozen for drinking and feeding, the Greywagtail was really hard to get close enough for any real good images, just no cover to sneak up to it, so a dubious record shot.
The Pied Wagtails, though it might be a White Wagtail I can never tell was a bit bolder and came close to me negating any need to crawl on my hand and knees. The first one is slightly back-lit which was fun to expose, think I got away with it! 
 The next two show it successfully finding food (second image) you can also make out the ice from the frozen pools of water too and not frost.

With blue skies and sun on the 2nd (Friday)  I wanted another go at some Stonechats so headed for Blueberry Farm and the log pile. It's a long bike ride but a pleasant one along the old railway line, plenty of Fieldfare, Buzzards though it was windy which made it hard going at times. I was hoping for some owls but found none, the wind probably didn't help matters. I could see the two Stonechats (male and female) some distance off in the target field but knew if I sat it out they'd come closer. 
 At one point they were both feeding off the track but horribly back-lit, I didn't get away with exposing it correctly tthis time.  A 4x4 sent them back to the field and so did a dog walker or two. It got a bit closer as people disappeared. But with long periods of time passing, each time it flew off into the field, the time it took to come back got longer....and longer. I got this one a little bit closer.
 However the track was busy with many enjoying the nice sun, who can blame them it got a bit closer and below is the best I got, which I'm sort of happy with...
What and where I really wanted the bird to be is perfectly demonstrated by this Robin. 
 It wasn't to be on this visit, luckily there's plenty of time to get what I was after.
For a "robin" I'm quite happy with that. Wish it were the chat though. 
The other bird that caught my eye was the three Buzzards circling overhead, one glided in close. I also saw two Kestrels but a bit quiet, but still worth the cycle even if my leg muscles differ.